…Well. Just the one, really.
Megan McArdle pretty much nails it here:
The technocratic idea is that you put a bunch of smart, competent people in government — folks who really want the thing to work — and they’ll make it happen. But “smart, competent people” are not a generic quantity; they’re incredibly domain-specific. Most academics couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Most successful entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to muster the monomaniacal devotion needed to get a Ph.D. Neither group produces many folks who can consistently generate readable, engaging writing on a deadline. And none of us would be able to win a campaign for Congress.
Yet in my experience, the majority of people in these domains think that they could do everyone else’s job better, if they weren’t so busy with whatever it is they’re doing so well.
I agree: a man has to know his limitations. For example: I’m not legislator material. I do agitprop and partisan hackery. I flatter myself that I do it reasonably well – by which I mean that I am entertaining, informative, and occasionally even helpful – but I don’t delude myself that a fairly quick wit and a certain felicity of style when “consistently generate readable, engaging writing” is actually meaningful as a skill set when it comes to winning, say, the Fourth Congressional District in Ohio*. I mention this last bit because Megan’s comments section has more than one person in it who completely missed her point by airily claiming that winning a Congressional District is a trivial exercise, as long as you have enough money.
…No. No, it’s not. It’s actually danged difficult; and most of the people who think that it’s not tend to get washed out before they even make it to the primary. I know, I know: it’s mean to puncture the delusions of the online commentariat…
*Not being Michael Barone, I don’t know who has that district. If it’s a Republican, rest assured: it was a random choice. If it’s a Democrat, rest equally assured: WE ARE COMING FOR YOUR SEAT.